Students took up jobs in a tight labour market in Canada in May as the summer job season kicks off.Photo by Alexander Suhorucov / Pexels

Original Published on Jun 10, 2022 at 16:30

By Morgan Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Many young people found full-time work in May as the summer student job market kicked off strong, Canadian labour force data showed on Friday.

Women of all ages and Albertans also boosted overall employment numbers as wage growth velocity quickened amid a recent increase in demand for a limited supply of workers.

The dynamic coincided with the start of the summer holiday job season last month to boost the economic fortunes of returning post-secondary students, who often rely on these concentrated bouts of earnings to help fund their schooling.

Just under half of all full-time students aged 15 to 24 who intend to return to school in September were employed in May, Statistics Canada said, with student employment rates likely to increase in June and July as high schoolers also wrap up their terms.

This was 2.8 percentage points higher than in the same month three years earlier and much more than in May 2021, when students and other young workers were grappling with some of the most disruptive labour market challenges resulting from COVID-19. (Young women did not recover their February 2020 employment level until August 2021.)

Total employment increased by 40,000 in May as the addition of 135,000 full-time positions was offset by a loss of 96,000 part-time jobs. Employment in the services-producing sector rose by 81,000, with gains spread across several industries, while goods-producing sectors lost 41,000 jobs after trending up since October and levelling out in April.

Average hourly wages were $31.12, an increase of $1.18, or 3.9 per cent, compared to a year earlier (and up from 3.3 per cent year-over-year growth in April), although these gains in the face of strong and broad inflationary pressures were not distributed evenly. 

Returning students notched above-average hourly wage rises, up 5.7 per cent to $16.82 in May, including a 10.5 per cent gain for students working in accommodation and food services, boosted by minimum wage increases introduced in Ontario and other provinces this year. Ontario also eliminated a special minimum wage for liquor servers in January.

Permanent and full-time wages increased 4.5 per cent and 4.3 per cent respectively, while average wages for men rose 4.2 per cent versus 3.7 per cent among women.

Women’s wages have been narrowing the gap with men’s in recent years, up 17.8 per cent since January 2018 compared to 14.9 per cent for men.

Salary changes since the pandemic hit have also been influenced by the greater portion of higher-wage employment growth in the job market, with employment in most of the lowest-paid industries either stalling or falling.

Job gains were recorded in accommodation and food services for a second straight month, as well as in educational services and retail.

The number of public sector employees rose by 108,000, driven by more public employees in education as well as health care and social assistance. The number of private-sector employees fell by 95,000, mostly due to fewer people working in manufacturing.

Professional, scientific and technical services jobs also grew, most noticeably in Alberta, while the transportation and warehousing sector and a grouping that includes finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing jobs both notched employment losses.

This item reprinted with permission from Canada’s National Observer, Ottawa, Ontario